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When I open the file with TextEdit (I don't want (truly, I am not able) to use vim), it is seen as "locked", even if I modify the permissions of the file via the "Get Info" window.

How can I modify the hosts file with TextEdit?

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I found nano to be a more approachable terminal-based text editor than vim for simple task like this. –  Édouard Mar 8 at 12:58
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4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

In one line, from Terminal:

sudo -b "/Applications/Textedit.app/Contents/MacOS/TextEdit" /etc/hosts

Make your changes, save and close.

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  1. Open TextEdit as sudo

    sudo -b /Applications/TextEdit.app/Contents/MacOS/TextEdit
    
  2. Open /etc/hosts in this new TextEdit instance using any of the following methods:

    • Append the path to the end of the previous command
    • Use File → Open
    • Drag the file to the sudo'd TextEdit on the Dock

Alternatively, you can edit in Terminal using nano:

SUDO_EDITOR=nano sudo -e /etc/hosts

Using sudo -e ensures that temporary files etc. are handled in the proper way and you don't run into permission issues with them. nano is a simple console-based editor which is quite user-friendly.

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You could try TextWrangler for this sort of thing; much more capable than TextEdit, and if you use the direct install from BareBones Software instead of the App Store version, it will happily open locked files. When you try, it asks permission, reminding you that you are not a member of the required group, but password entry will allow you to open and edit the file. Plus, it has optional command line additions (also not built in to App Store version) that will allow you to use TextWrangler by entering edit (name of file) to open things directly from Terminal. Open File dialog has a handy "show invisibles" option to help you open and edit hidden or dot-prefixed files too. It's a free app so no risk in trying.

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If you like simple, you can research vim tool which installed on MacOS: sudo vi /etc/hosts

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